Extreme heat takes a toll and presents a hazard to Richmond residents.

The city now has a guide for alleviating heat-related problems for vulnerable residents. Richmond Common Council on May 1 adopted a heat management plan developed through the grant-funded Beat the Heat program. It addresses heat response protocols, public outreach, home cooling and climate responsive design.

“What’s next is to take this plan and read this plan and implement it, channel it into Richmond’s capacities as Richmond is able to, when it is able to,” said Grayson Hart, the city’s GIS coordinator.

The Beat the Heat grant, funded by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, provided a heat management coordinator for two years. Lucy Mellen received public input and created the heat management plan prior to leaving the city to become the sustainability coordinator in Wilmette, Illinois.

Without Mellen, there’s no dedicated heat relief coordinator, but her efforts began some initiatives and created relationships with partners to continue addressing the heat problem. Last year, the city passed out cooling kits that included items such as sunscreen and water bottles, planted trees to provide more shade and developed cooling stations.

“Until there is somebody who can act in that capacity for the city, the heat management plan stands as a document for anyone and anybody, whether they’re in the city or working with the city as nonprofits or other agencies and partners, to take the plan and identify and read out that these are some of the most important things that we can do in the event of extreme heat,” Hart said.

TIF districts

Council also unanimously passed an initial resolution addressing two of the city’s Tax Increment Finance allocation areas, but the issue will return to council June 19.

The resolution adds Viking Group and Liberation Labs to the city’s tax rolls to receive taxes from the two companies planning to locate in the Midwest Industrial Park. Viking Group plans to invest $75 million and create 111 jobs, and Liberation Labs plans a $115 million investment and 45 new jobs.

“We need to add these new taxpayers to our tax base,” said Beth Fields, the city’s director of strategic initiatives.

The resolution also pulls three parcels related to the former Elder-Beerman from the downtown TIF district and creates a new allocation area with just those three parcels. One parcel is the building and two parcels are the parking lot south of the building.

The site has been targeted for an apartment project that would boost downtown living.

“In order to have an opportunity to develop specifically on that site and potentially provide a financing tool to a new developer that would go to that site, we are carving those three parcels out,” Fields said. 

Council takes another vote June 19 after a public hearing to be conducted during the noon June 13 Redevelopment Commission meeting at the city building.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 10 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.